Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
Plot: A woman is left handcuffed to her dead husband as part of a sick revenge plot. Unable to unshackle, she has to survive as two killers arrive to finish her off.
Review: “Starring Megan Fox.” These three words tend to elicit two responses out of most viewers. Either they groan and immediately deem the movie as unworthy as they hastily move on to something else, or curiosity gets the better of them and they decide to see if, like Jennifer’s Body, Ms Fox has something good on her hands. I’ve never had a problem with this actress and honestly I think she gets a bad rap. Yeah she’s no Meryl Streep, but I don’t think she’s anywhere near as bad an actress as people say. So I decided to check out her latest thriller, Till Death, which, despite my low expectations, turned out to be much better than I expected.
So when I saw the premise for this movie my hackles immediately went up. As a huge HUGE fan of Stephen King’s Gerald’s Game (seriously, this book is in my Top 10) and equally as big a fan of director Mike Flanagan and his pitch perfect adaptation of said novel, I was waiting patiently to see if director S.K. Dale and writer Jason Carvey was (as we Trinidadians love to say) “boldface” enough to rip it off. I mean, a wife handcuffed to her dead husband’s corpse, forced to survive as she’s also stuck in the middle of nowhere with zero lines of communication?! Hell no! I know they aren’t seriously trying to sneak this blatant thievery pass me! Turns out I might need to switch to decaf, because Till Death may have some minor elements in common with my favourite novel-turned-movie but it’s most definitely its own story, and an engaging one at that.
The weakest aspect of this movie is its first half. Megan’s character Emma is having an affair, one that she’s chosen to end. And not because of guilt or love for her husband but because she doesn’t think it’s fair to her lover. Hubby Mark (Eoin Macken of The Forest, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter) is a very successful attorney now that he’s switched from putting bad guys away to making sure they stay free on the streets. One of these bad guys is Emma’s ex-boyfriend Bobby (Callan Mulvey of 300: Rise of an Empire/Outlaw King) a man who abused her and tried to kill her.
Emma and Mark head to a restaurant to celebrate their anniversary. The dinner feels cold and awkward as its obvious to anyone paying attention she would rather be anywhere else. But her husband tells her he has one more surprise for her, insisting she wears a blindfold as he drives her to a secret location. Said surprise turns out to be a night at their lake house as he wants to try and rekindle what they have lost. But the next morning there’s an even bigger surprise waiting for our heroine and one that I won’t give away here because I didn’t see it coming. And it does a solid job of closing off our first act and taking us head first into the rest of what builds to be a very entertaining thriller.
A big budget isn’t necessary for a film such as this, but I did appreciate the movie looked and felt like whatever money they had was well spent. The house itself is your typical affluent setting but the director also utilises the adjacent buildings like the garage and boathouse in very smart ways, so you never feel bored with the surroundings. The snowy outdoors added to the feeling of isolation and desperation, not to mention the weather itself was an adversary in her fight for survival. I’ve never had to walk barefoot through snow and I hope I never have to.
Megan surprisingly doesn’t have a lot of dialogue in this movie. I don’t know if that was deliberate but action is definitely better than words here as we see her making smart choices as she tries to get out of her restraints and get help. Things only get more tense once our antagonists arrive and her cat-and-mouse game with them had me cheering her on. The film also has some serious horror elements that I wasn’t expecting, and the fact they seem to use practical effects more than the usual CGI stuff you would find in films such as these was an added delight for a horror fan such as myself.
So if you’re willing to keep an open mind and not hate on the movie just because Megan Fox is the lead, I think there’s a decent thriller to enjoy here. The opening act crawls along and is a bit tedious to get through, but they don’t waste time on a lot of exposition, choosing to show us what we need to know while moving the story forward. And once the second act kicks in things get pretty interesting. The last half is also solid with a conclusion that will bring to mind similar female empowerment films such as Sleeping with the Enemy and Enough. So if those types of thrillers appeal to you, this one will as well.
Sommer’s Score: 6 out of 10
You can check out more great content below:
Survival Horror Gerald’s Game Review in 3 Slices (No Spoilers)
Fox in the Lions’ Den: Rogue is an Above Average Action-Movie-of-the-Week
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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